Augmented Reality (AR) still looks like a very futuristic technology to many people. However, if we go back in history, we realize that this science —that allows us to superimpose information— has been around for a while. Specifically, since 1967 when Harvard computer science professor Ivan Sutherland created The Sword of Damocles.
The potential of augmented and virtual reality (VR) has remained latent and, during the past few years, it seems to be attracting more attention than ever. According to a recent IDC report, investments in AR and VR products and services will increase by up to 68% by 2023.
In this article we will quickly review how augmented reality has changed and why business leaders are eager to contribute money to this technology.
From Pokemon Go to Instagram Filters
Even though Google Glass got the industry’s attention in 2012, when it was launched, consumers weren’t ready or interested enough in this technology. Google’s recent transactions indicate that they haven’t renounced their revolutionary idea, but it wasn’t until 2016 that users showed real enthusiasm in augmented reality: When Pokemon Go became a worldwide phenomenon.
After its great success, Pokémon Go’s boom didn’t extinguish that easily, as some experts and users anticipated. In fact, against all odds, a few weeks ago Niantic’s game revenue hit $3.6 billion.
And then, social media stepped in. Since its origins, Snapchat created funny and very realistic AR filters that just keep improving, and recently declared to see a 37% increase in Snaps sent using an AR Lens. Instagram has also developed interesting intuitive virtual products and now more users are creating their own AR filters.
Social networks have had a great influence in commercial brands that are now creating AR filters and AR marketing strategies to gain popularity and boost sales.
What the Commercial Industry Is Doing
Augmented Reality has been used for different purposes and it is impressive and amazing to see how different industries —from health care to retail— have adopted it. AR became especially valuable during the COVID-19 crisis: Nestlé has been using it to provide remote support in their factories and maintain production.
When it comes to business-to-consumer (B2C) experiences, creativity has been a key factor. A great example is the popular Swedish company Ikea: it created an app called Place to show their customers how the furniture they like would look in their homes. The technology scans the place, measures space, and helps users see, accurately, how the objects they like would fit in their kitchens, bedrooms, or living rooms.
Another interesting service is provided by Sephora, the cosmetics giant. They also created an app that works on smartphones and desktops, Visual Artist, and it allows customers to see how the products would look on their skin, in real-time, using AR.
These examples are just a small proof of how, during the past few years, different companies and industries have been developing AR software and technologies to implement popular and disruptive features.
This field will certainly continue to grow and we will see more interesting augmented reality services, products, and marketing strategies in the tech industry.